July 3, 2014

The Swamp Thing: A Commission for Deb


Commissions are the joy of my artistic life. Sheer joy. I get to paint subjects I wouldn’t ordinarily think to do and there’s a home waiting for the finished product. But the best part? That’s delivering the painting! In so many ways, I’ve always lived with art. I went to art schools, I hung out with artists, I married an artist, my kids all paint. It’s a life style. But I realize that it’s not everyone else’s or I wouldn’t be in business! lol And so, the joy, expectation and excitement when I hand the painting over to the recipient are unexpected for me. I was surprised at how my work was perceived and it was a wonderful surprise. The best of all.

Even when showing in a gallery, there isn’t that connection with viewers or purchasers so I was blindly painting in the dark, without one on one feedback and boy does that feedback ever make me want to paint so much more!

So, here’s The Swamp Thing, a commission I received through doing commissions for other people. I don’t know Deb beyond our email conversations but she approached me with a fun challenge and I was more than willing. I grew up watching all the black and white movies from westerns to Godzilla to The Swamp Thing. Sunday afternoon movies. Great fun! And to paint this character was a lot of fun. I got to research images from the movies and comics, refresh my memories and then get to work.



I don’t paint realistically, I paint emotionally. I want to convey intensity, tragedy, joy or whatever though colour and character positioning. For this guy, movement and catching him mid-motion was the best approach. Filling the background with swampy shapes – you can’t see it in the photos but the background has texture to it – and painting fast and loose.


I was working with building up colour and shade. Adding in extra colours to convey warmth and coolness gives any painting depth. There’s a point in every painting that I call “Shitsville”. You won’t necessarily see much of this online because what artist wants you to see that depressing place? The place where paintings look like crap; like they’re complete and total fails. This painting hit that fairly quickly and stayed there for a while. But I know Shitsville is only a brief stopover and not worth a visit. The way to get out is to press on. Keep on painting.


And you can see with bold additions of white and black, more layers of greens, Shitsville is left behind. This is one thing all student artists have to learn. Get through it, push on. If you think the painting is ruined anyway then you have nothing left to lose. But showing Shitsville online is not for the faint of heart. Every single time I do so, I wonder what the hell I’m doing and then I press on. Just keep swimming!

As always, in the end, details matter. If you look at the differences between this and the final, there aren’t many but they are so important. Teeth, defined outlines, subtle touches of colour.

And here we have it: The Swamp Thing. 16″x20″ acrylic on stretched canvas. He’s already in his forever home and I am so thrilled I was asked to paint him!


Want a painting of your own? Have a desire to collect art but think you can’t afford it? Well, I can help! As an emerging artist, my rates are very affordable. Now has never been a better time to commission paintings! Let’s talk and see what I can paint for you. And the bonus? You get to see it come to life live on Facebook! How cool is that?